Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

I probably won't be posting for a few days so I hope anyone who reads this blog has a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

Right now, I'm giving thanks for my new iMac G5 at work, which came with what I think is the crack of software applications: Photo Booth. You know it's bad for you, but you keep on doing it.

Here are some samples of what Photo Booth can do:

You can take a normal photo, but...

...things can get a bit distorted, if you so desire.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Webcams...not just for porn anymore

It turns out webcams can save lives, too.

This AP story, tells the tale of a Norwegian artist who collapsed in her California living room. One of her sons in the Philippines just happened to check the webcam in that living room and saw her lying on a couch, unresponsive to his phone calls.

He couldn't get through to the local emergency services so he called his brother, who was having breakfast with his wife in Norway. The wife, originally from Long Island, NY, knew exactly who to contact and the paramedics arrived within 10 minutes.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Greetings from Gainesville

Food from Newberry's Backyard Bar-BQ in Newberry, FL.
Mmm...the Newberry Family Feast for Four from Newberry's Backyard Bar-BQ in Newberry, FL. Good eats!

Well, the University of Florida Hilton -- headquarters for my friend's wedding -- does indeed have free, high-speed Internet in the rooms. However, I just haven't been in mine long enough to do much with it. But since this is my last night here, I figured I should try to get one post onto the ol' blog.

The picture above was taken at the rehearsal dinner. I thought it was an interesting photo...kind of like something you'd see on Mike Doughty's blog so I decided to post it.

That's, I'm going to sleep.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Off to Florida for a few days

Well, I'm flying down to Florida tomorrow (Thurs.) morning and will be back Sunday night. I am the best man for my friend Cliff, who is getting married in Gainesville on Saturday.

Hence, I'll be pretty tied up over the next few days and will be away from the ol' blog until I get back.

Right now, I am packing, making myself something to eat and enjoying "My Blue Heaven," one of the funniest movies ever made.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Ben Folds rocks NYC, then meets BK & KT

Well, the Ben Folds show at Radio City Music Hall rocked Monday night -- despite the stupid 11 p.m. curfew imposed on him that resulted in Ben closing with just the crowd-sung harmonies of "Not the Same" instead of the full song. If he had gone one minute over, he would have been charged $10,000.

So while Ben didn't play standards like "Philosophy" and the full version of "Not the Same," Katie and I did get to hear nuggets like "Don't Change Your Plans" and "Where's Summer B.?"...and the CD version and the reworked, stadium rock version of "Jesusland" (if you can figure out this RapidShare site and manage to download this FLAC file of the song, took me awhile to figure it out). The stadium version -- think U2 meets Ben Folds -- kicked ass and was a whole lot of fun. I hope it gets recorded at some point and becomes a B side.

Anyway, tonight's show ranks up there with among the best I have ever seen...probably because Ben and the boys were in top form and it was in such a hallowed venue like Radio City Music Hall (its policies notwithstanding). You could tell Ben was having fun playing there and seeing all those people at one of his shows.

And, as I posted earlier, because Katie won a contest on, we got kick-ass seats (Row EE) that were an upgrade over the ones I had purchased (Row F...of the second mezzanine) and we were able to meet Ben after the show. It was very quick, though, and kind of awkward. We just stood there in his dressing room on an upper floor of the venue until some others moved out and we were able to grab a few seconds of his time. While we were in there, though, Ben appeased the crowd gathered on the street below by tossing bananas out the window to them.

Oh, and props to Colin, the college rep for Sony, who worked everything out for us and got us the free CDs (Ben's "Songs for Silverman-Deluxe Edition" and The Fray's CD) and the passes to the mysterious Roxy Suite. are some pics from the evening:

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Genesis reuniting? Kate Bush makes comeback

Well, after an Eagles loss to the Redskins on Sunday Night Football, it was nice to read these musical items on the news wires:

Genesis reunion closer to reality?
I came across this Reuters story on Phil Collins being open to a Genesis reunion. I was about to post this news to a Peter Gabriel-related site I moderate on and saw that somebody had beat me to it.

However, that post had a link to even more exciting developments regarding a Genesis reunion that would bring Peter Gabriel (vocals), Phil Collins (drums, vocals), Steve Hackett (guitars), Mike Rutherford (bass, guitars), and Tony Banks (keyboards) together again.

A Genesis reunion tour would absolutely rock! I hope this happens.

New Kate Bush release
Kate Bush is releasing a double CD entitled "Aerial" this week -- her first new set of music since 1993's "The Red Shoes." I was just thinking recently that I would love to hear some new Kate Bush...and now it's here. The first single, "King of the Mountain," from the new set is now available for download on iTunes.

Friday, November 04, 2005

What did he say?

OK...before I go on, I must say that I drive an SUV...but it's a Saturn VUE -- the wimpiest of all SUVs -- that I bought in July 2002. I didn't need or want something like the Canyonero from The Simpsons, but I did want to have a vehicle with more passenger and cargo room after having small cars (two Mustangs, Probe, Saturn coupe) my entire life as a driver.

Anyway, the reason I say all that is because I just read this story on, which talks about blind spots behind SUVs resulting in children being run over by people -- usually relatives -- backing out of driveways and parking spaces. Now, I always worry about that, which is why I take about 2 1/2 days to back out of a parking space or driveway. But, apparently, that is indeed a pretty big problem.

Let me also say that I was a journalism major and took plenty of public relations classes. I have worked in public relations and still sort of do even as a writer.

I am also aware of the difference between a spokesperson and a lobbyist.

Well, apparently, the SUV Owners of America, an organization partially funded by the car companies, does not. Read the following excerpt from the story and get a load of the quote from the organization's communications director (i.e., P.R. mouthpiece), Ron DeFore.

Optional equipment available on many trucks and SUVs can help solve this problem. Some cars and trucks are already available with sensors that sound an audible warning when something is close behind and the vehicle is in reverse. Some even have video cameras that show what's behind the vehicle where the mirrors can't see.

For vehicles that don't have this type of equipment, several companies make products that you can easily install yourself.

While back-up video camera systems can cost thousands of dollars, radar-based sensors cost much less, generally a couple of hundred dollars. Some of these systems take just a few minutes to install.

(Consumer Reports auto test director David) Champion thinks systems like these should be required on all larger vehicles. But DeFore, communications director for SUV Owners of America, disagrees, citing the cost.

"If we take the attitude that any new technology, down the road, should just be mandated because it saved a few lives," he said, "that is very dangerous public policy because you just start pricing vehicles well beyond what a lot of people can afford."

OK...stand back a few seconds and take a few breaths. Let's recap...

This Ron DeFore character basically said it is more important for the car makers to save people a couple of hundred dollars on their SUV purchase than it is to save children's lives.

Now, this is the sort of thing a lobbyist would say in private to a politician, who is likely also soulless and wouldn't even realize the idiocy and evilness of such a comment (especially when you consider the contribution or kickback the politician is being offered to support that hideous point of view).

But I can't imagine how making such a clueless, heartless and oblivious statement to the media could ever be considered good public relations.

One thing I want to know...even though I own the wimpiest of all SUVs, I am technically an SUV America. I have never heard of this SUV Owners of America...and I definitely don't want to be associated with dickheads like Ron DeFore. Can they at least change the name to what it really is...the SUV Makers of America?

And since I'm in a Ben Folds state of mind with Monday's show at Radio City Music Hall drawing near, I thought this lyric from Ben's "All U Can Eat" fit nicely into this post:

Son, look at all the people in this restaurant
What do you think they weigh?
And out the window to the parking lot
At their SUVs taking all of the space

They give no fuck
They talk as loud as they want
They give no fuck
Just as long as there’s enough for them

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Katrina revisited: The Brownie e-mails

I was just reading this story about e-mail exchanges with Mike Brown during Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath that show just how overwhelmed and clueless he really was/is.

Here's an excerpt that I particularly enjoyed:

For instance, two days after Katrina, Marty Bahamonde, one of the only FEMA employees in New Orleans, wrote to Brown that "the situation is past critical."

"Here are some things you might not know. Hotels are kicking people out, thousands gathering in the streets with no food or water. Hundreds still being rescued from homes," Bahamonde said.

"The dying patients at the DMAT (Disaster Medical Assistance Team) tent being medivac. Estimates are many will die within hours. Evacuation in process. Plans developing for [Superdome] evacuation but hotel situation adding to problem. We are out of food and running out of water at the dome, plans in works to address the critical need.

"FEMA staff is OK and holding own. DMAT staff working in deplorable conditions. The sooner we can get the medical patients out, the sooner we can get them out. Phone connectivity impossible."

Brown's entire response was: "Thanks for the update. Anything specific I need to do or tweak?"

Tweak?! TWEAK?! Holy incompetence, Batman!

Rep. Charles Melancon, D-Louisiana, has posted the e-mails in a PDF on his Web site.